Trump impeachment calls snowball, putting pressure on Pelosi

Democratic calls for impeaching President TrumpDonald John TrumpPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump FBI identifies Pensacola shooter as Saudi Royal Saudi Air Force second lieutenant Trump calls Warren 'Pocahontas,' knocks wealth tax MORE snowballed on Tuesday, lending enormous new momentum to efforts to oust the president and posing the toughest test yet for Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump Democrats open door to repealing ObamaCare tax in spending talks Sunday talk shows: Lawmakers gear up ahead of Monday's House Judiciary hearing MORE (D-Calif.) and other party leaders grappling with the potential repercussions.

The list of new impeachment supporters spans the ideological spectrum, including liberal holdouts, vulnerable centrists, committee chairs and party icons like Rep. John LewisJohn LewisIsakson talks up bipartisanship in Senate farewell speech Trump tax breaks for low-income neighborhoods draw scrutiny Democrats ramp up oversight efforts over 'opportunity zone' incentive MORE (D-Ga.), who endorsed the process Tuesday afternoon in a fiery speech on the House floor.

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"The future of our democracy is at stake," Lewis said. "There comes a time when you have to be moved by the spirit of history to take action to protect and preserve the integrity of our nation."

Pelosi and her leadership team have long rejected the idea of impeaching Trump, wary of the potential blowback against vulnerable centrists at the polls next year.

But recent allegations that Trump pressed a foreign leader to investigate a political rival have sparked an uproar within the Democratic Caucus, leading dozens of lawmakers to jump on the impeachment bandwagon in the last 24 hours alone.

Against that backdrop, Pelosi will huddle Tuesday afternoon with the six committee chairs investigating allegations of wrongdoing against Trump, while a separate meeting of the full Democratic Caucus — unusual ahead of the week's votes — is scheduled for 4 p.m.

“The Constitution gives Congress the responsibility to rein in a lawless President,” Rep. Hakeem JeffriesHakeem Sekou JeffriesLive coverage: Witnesses say Trump committed impeachable offenses Pelosi faces tough choices on impeachment managers Lawmakers turn attention to potential witnesses at Judiciary impeachment hearings MORE (N.Y.), chairman of the Democratic Caucus, tweeted Tuesday, announcing the 4 p.m. meeting. “We will do our job #ImpeachmentInvestigation.”

Many Democrats now want to go beyond the ongoing investigative strategy long favored by Pelosi and other top leaders.

New reports that Trump pressed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenPence: It's not a "foregone conclusion" that lawmakers impeach Trump Warren, Buttigieg fight echoes 2004 campaign, serves as warning for 2020 race Trump: Giuliani to deliver report on Ukraine trip to Congress, Barr MORE and his son, Hunter Biden, have supercharged the impeachment push, with a number of moderate lawmakers suddenly changing their tune.

Some of those centrists, like Rep. Antonio DelgadoAntonio Ramon DelgadoPowerful House panel to hold 'Medicare for All' hearing next week Overnight Health Care: Democratic group to only endorse AG candidates who back abortion rights | Protect Our Care launches seven-figure ad buy to boost vulnerable Dems | California sues Juul Group launches seven-figure ad buy boosting vulnerable Democrats on drug prices MORE (D-N.Y.), are now supporting votes on articles of impeachment. A larger group of moderates haven't gone so far, but they're threatening to endorse impeachment in some form if Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence, refuses to release a whistleblower report related to Trump's conversation with Zelensky when Maguire appears before the House Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

Seven Democratic freshmen with either military or national security backgrounds wrote a Washington Post op-ed on Monday warning that the Ukraine episode may be their breaking point on impeachment.

"If these allegations are true, we believe these actions represent an impeachable offense," the lawmakers wrote.

The group consisted of Reps. Gil CisnerosGilbert (Gil) Ray CisnerosMORE (Calif.), Jason CrowJason CrowColorado rep planning sunrise run to possible sites for military memorial Bill introduced to give special immigrant visas to Kurds who helped US in Syria Congress set for showdown with Trump over Kurds MORE (Colo.), Chrissy Houlahan (Pa.), Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaLawmakers honor JFK on 56th anniversary of his death Overnight Health Care: Democratic group to only endorse AG candidates who back abortion rights | Protect Our Care launches seven-figure ad buy to boost vulnerable Dems | California sues Juul Group launches seven-figure ad buy boosting vulnerable Democrats on drug prices MORE (Va.), Mikie SherrillRebecca (Mikie) Michelle SherrillHillicon Valley: Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract in court | State antitrust investigation into Google expands | Intel agencies no longer collecting location data without warrant Bipartisan bill to secure election tech advances to House floor Our commitment to veterans can help us lead for all Americans MORE (N.J.), Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinIran building hidden arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles in Iraq: report Democrats debate scope of impeachment charges Democrats hit gas on impeachment MORE (Mich.) and Abigail SpanbergerAbigail Davis SpanbergerPro-Trump group targets Democrats with 'End the Witch Hunt' campaign Club for Growth extends advertising against House Dems over impeachment NRCC campaign prank leads to suspicious package investigation MORE (Va.).

Several other freshmen also representing battleground districts adopted a similar position this week, including Reps. Dean PhillipsDean PhillipsKudlow 'very optimistic' on USMCA prospects USMCA deal close, but not 'imminent,' Democrats say Democrats lead Trump by wide margins in Minnesota MORE (D-Minn.), Angie Craig (D-Minn.), Colin Allred (D-Texas), Lizzie Fletcher (D-Texas) and Haley StevensHaley Maria StevensRussian judge orders ex-Marine to be detained through December on espionage charges House calls on Russia to release Paul Whelan or else provide evidence of wrongdoing Pelosi-backed group funding ads for vulnerable Democrats amid impeachment inquiry MORE (D-Mich.).

There are other signs of impeachment momentum, too.

A number of Democrats who had previously supported an impeachment inquiry, for instance, are now calling for articles to be drafted — a stark escalation of the process intended to oust the president. That list includes Reps. Brad SchneiderBradley (Brad) Scott SchneiderHouse Democrat pushes back against concerns that impeachment inquiry could spark political backlash Dem Congressman discusses plan to keep the house blue The Hill's Morning Report - New impeachment battle: Pompeo vs. House Dems MORE (D-Ill.), Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumHouse approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump Pelosi heading to Madrid for UN climate change convention Overnight Energy: Mark Ruffalo pushes Congress on 'forever chemicals' | Lawmakers spar over actor's testimony | House Dems unveil renewable energy tax plan | Funding for conservation program passes Senate hurdle MORE (D-Minn.), Veronica EscobarVeronica EscobarFive questions looming over impeachment Rep. Veronica Escobar elected to represent freshman class in House leadership Brindisi, Lamb recommended for Armed Services, Transportation Committees MORE (D-Texas) and David CicillineDavid Nicola CicillineTech finds surprise ally in Trump amid high-stakes tax fight Sunday talk shows: Lawmakers gear up ahead of Monday's House Judiciary hearing Pelosi to Democrats: 'Are you ready?' MORE (R.I.), who heads the Democrats’ messaging arm.

“President Trump’s actions to pressure a foreign government into investigating a political rival are an absolute abuse of the powers of the presidency, and this flagrant corruption demands an urgent response from Congress,” Schneider said Tuesday in a statement.

The growing support for impeachment poses a test for Pelosi, the political pragmatist who views the 2020 elections as the Democrats’ best chance at removing Trump and doesn't want to risk a political backlash that could benefit Republicans at the polls. With that in mind, Pelosi has long rejected impeaching Trump, pointing to the lack of support from both voters and congressional Republicans, who control the Senate.

On Sunday, Pelosi sent a warning shot to the White House ahead of Thursday's Intelligence hearing.

“If the Administration persists in blocking this whistleblower from disclosing to Congress a serious possible breach of constitutional duties by the President, they will be entering a grave new chapter of lawlessness which will take us into a whole new stage of investigation,” she wrote in a letter to House Democrats.

But Pelosi avoided any mention of the “I-word.” And some party operatives are predicting she won't endorse the shift to impeachment without a stark shift in public support.

Trump, meanwhile, has forcefully denied reports that he leveraged U.S. military aid to compel Zelensky to investigate Biden, while also suggesting it would have been well within his powers to have done so.

“I put no pressure on them whatsoever. I could have. I think it would probably, possibly have been OK if I did. But I didn't. I didn't put any pressure on them whatsoever,” Trump said Monday.

He doubled down Tuesday morning, saying the Democrats' push for impeachment is politically motivated “nonsense.”

“I think it’s ridiculous. It’s a witch hunt. I’m leading in the polls,” Trump said as he arrived at the United Nations annual summit in New York. “They have no idea how they stop me, the only way they can try is through impeachment.”

Some Democrats have floated a proposal to create a special committee to investigate Trump's dealings with Ukraine. The idea was quickly panned by liberal impeachment supporters, however, who warned that it would only delay a process served best by the Judiciary Committee.

“This is an emergency. We don’t have the luxury of time w/ another committee,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezSanders, Omar to hit campaign trail in New Hampshire Ocasio-Cortez: 'Won't you look at that: Amazon is coming to NYC anyway' House approves two-state resolution in implicit rebuke of Trump MORE (D-N.Y.) tweeted Tuesday.

“Judiciary has been investigating& putting the pieces together for months,” she added. “Impeachment belongs there."